Today, the BC Government announced that it has once again delayed the delivery of BC Hydro's Integrated Resource Plan to Cabinet until August 3, 2013 due to uncertainty of the electricity requirements for the prospective liquefied natural gas (LNG) export projects to be located in northern British Columbia. The announcement stated that Government, BC Hydro and LNG proponents are currently negotiating electricity-supply agreements. The good news for the IPP sector is that the use of electricity is under serious consideration.
The potential size of the LNG load is extraordinarily large. Yet the current electricity service to the region is insufficient to meet the potential demand. From what we know, energy/electricity supply decisions at Kitimat and Prince Rupert have not been made. There are options here; some low-carbon, some not so much. But because of the long lead time needed to meet the electricity supply requirements, careful planning must take place before the big decisions are made. But at this point in time, no prospective LNG proponent has the necessary agreements in place to start construction of the LNG facilities. The great BC LNG infrastructure build-out won't get started until the planning is done and big decisions are made.
With this new industry, the BC Government has the opportunity and is truly in a unique position to create a lasting legacy for the North, for the regional First Nations and the entire Province of British Columbia. But leadership here is critical. And, most importantly, the Province must have a development plan that addresses GHG emissions, environmental stewardship and development of legacy infrastructure. Giving BC Hydro some additional time to submit its 20 year supply/demand forecast is a good decision given the current uncertainty of the potential massive load in the North and the general enthusiasm for realistic load forecasts.
The big question is: whether the outcome of the discussions between Government, BC Hydro, and LNG proponents for the supply of electricity pre-determines the contents of the ultimate IRP?